When I was growing up art was my least favorite subject at school. Subsequently, visiting an art gallery had absolutely no place on my list of exciting things to do in my free time. Things changed when I met my husband and I was helped to see that art can be meaningful and galleries can be fun.
Now that I’m a parent, I want my children to sample the buffet of life and be exposed to a wide range of experiences and activities. In this vein, it’s not uncommon for me to be found wandering around the 798 Art District with my three children in tow, popping into random galleries and waxing lyrically about ornate sculptures and colorful pieces of graffiti.
When I heard about a free exhibition that pays homage to the concept of finding beauty in the unspectacular, my ears perked up.
The exhibition is called SIGNAL and is the work of American artist, Stephen Gleadow. The showcased pieces reflect the fact that Beijing is a city that is in a constant state of flux. Old structures are torn down without regard. The pieces that survive the bulldozer are carted off and disposed of without a second thought. This exhibition is about pausing to look deeply at the ordinary and marginalized; it’s about finding beauty in what is so often overlooked.
By producing an entire exhibition from materials that most people happily toss upon a trash heap, Gleadow creatively challenges the assumption that if something is old, worn, and no longer in vogue it ceases to be of value and is thus suitable only for disposal.
Art is such that it can be interpreted and appreciated on so many levels. I can’t say my three year old fully comprehended the subliminal message behind the exhibition but she certainly was intrigued by what she saw.
She took a particular liking to an enormous work in the main exhibition room. I enjoyed watching her stare somewhat mesmerized at the gigantic blue and red piece of art and point out things that I hadn’t even noticed. Her level of engagement was beautiful to behold and made venturing out in the sub-zero temperature completely worth it.
Free. Ends Jan 13, 2019. Opening hours are Thursday-Sunday, 11:00 – 18:00, 10 Caochangdi
Photos: Pamela Djima